Friday 15. July 2011

Local collaboration for a global research problem

Course work is now over for the Coastal and Marine Management students (CMM) and their thesis work has begun. Quite many of the students are doing research for their thesis in the Westfjords. Among them is Dafna Israel, but recently she deployed two artificial reefs in Skutulsfjörður as a part of her thesis project.

It has been suggested to use artificial reefs as bio filtration for the excess of the feeding remains that fall on the sea bottom. So far, four different localities have used artificial reefs and examined their value as reducing impact from feeding remains. Those are Israel, Hong Kong, Chile, and Spain, but no research has been conducted in higher hemisphere region or in a fjord. Dafna's research aim is therefore to discover whether artificial reefs can be used as bio filtration for the feeding remains of mariculture in a (higher hemisphere) fjord. The project will thus support further growth in mariculture by answering the research question: Do Artificial Reefs Reduce the Accumulation of Feeding Remains Surrounding Mariculture Cages?

The reefs were deployed below the cages of the local aquaculture company Álfsfell in Skutulsfjörður. They were built from scraps and waste with the help of Arni Helgason. Davíð Kjartansson and Kjartan Davíðsson who work for Álfsfell are engaged in the research and help with transportation to the site each sample day. Dafna then collects the samples herself, along with the great help of divemaster Sveinbjörn (Simbi) Hjálmarsson. Afterwards the sample analyzes are conducted with Christian Gallo at the Westfjords Natural History Institute (NAVE) in the nearby town Bolungarvík.

If this research proves successful it can provide a base to extend the research and application of artificial reefs below more mariculture cages. Such pilot research can also prove greatly useful as mariculture is a growing industry in the Westfjords region.

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV) covered Dafna's research on their television news last night. For those who are interested the news clip can be watched at RÚV's website.

Dafna preparing for a dive
Dafna preparing for a dive
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